Millions face forced migration amid emergence of climate hotspots

Over 216 million people across the world are set to move to escape the impact of climate change by 2050.

The World Bank’s updated Groundswell report warned that climate change has become an increasingly potent driver of migration and could force 216 million people across six world regions to move within their countries by 2050.

Hotspots of internal climate migration could emerge as early as 2030 and continue to spread and intensify by 2050. The report found that immediate and concerted action to reduce global emissions, and support green, inclusive, and resilient development, could reduce the scale of climate migration by as much as 80 percent.

“Climate change is a powerful driver of internal migration because of its impacts on people’s livelihoods and loss of liveability in highly exposed locations,” said the study.

By 2050, Sub-Saharan Africa could see as many as 86 million internal climate migrants; East Asia and the Pacific, 49 million; South Asia, 40 million; North Africa, 19 million; Latin America, 17 million; and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, 5 million.

“The Groundswell report is a stark reminder of the human toll of climate change, particularly on the world’s poorest—those who are contributing the least to its causes. It also clearly lays out a path for countries to address some of the key factors that are causing climate-driven migration,” said Juergen Voegele, Vice President of Sustainable Development, World Bank. “All these issues are fundamentally connected which is why our support to countries is positioned to deliver on climate and development objectives together while building a more sustainable, safe and resilient future.”

The updated report includes projections and analysis for three regions: East Asia and the Pacific, North Africa, and Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

It builds on the pioneering modelling approach of the previous World Bank Groundswell report from 2018, which covered Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America.

“By deploying a scenario-based approach, the report explores potential future outcomes, which can help decision-makers plan ahead,” said the study. “The approach allows for the identification of internal climate in- and out migration hotspots, namely the areas from which people are expected to move due to increasing water scarcity, declining crop productivity, and sea-level rise, and urban and rural areas with better conditions to build new livelihoods.”

The report contains a series of policy recommendations that it said can help slow the factors driving climate migration and prepare for expected migration flows, including:

  • Reducing global emissions and making every effort to meet the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement.
  • Embedding internal climate migration in far-sighted green, resilient, and inclusive development planning.
  • Preparing for each phase of migration, so that internal climate migration as an adaptation strategy can result in positive development outcomes.

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